Tadhg Kennelly

Tadhg Kennelly (born 1 July 1981) is an Irish sportsperson known for his top level careers in both Gaelic football and Australian rules football. He is the only holder of both an AFL Premiership medallion and a Senior All-Ireland Championship medal, the highest possible achievement in both sports. He has also represented Ireland in the International Rules Series.

Tadhg Kennelly
Kennelly playing in July 2018
Personal information
Full name Tadhg Kennelly
Date of birth (1981-07-01) 1 July 1981
Place of birth Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland
Original team(s) Kerry (underage)
Height 190 cm (6 ft 3 in)
Weight 90 kg (198 lb)
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
2001–08; 2010–11 Sydney 197 (30)
International team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
2001–2011 Ireland 6
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 2011.
Career highlights
Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com

Kennelly grew up playing Gaelic football with Listowel Emmets in Kerry, but moved to Australia to play professional Australian rules football in the Australian Football League. He is best known in Australia as the first Irish-born player to have received an AFL Premiership medallion and the first AFL player to represent Ireland against Australia in the International Rules Series. After Jim Stynes he is the second most experienced player associated with the Irish experiment.

Kennelly returned to his native Listowel to play in the 2009 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. On 20 September 2009, he started the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final as part of Kerry's All-Ireland winning side, scoring two points during the game and thus becoming the first person to win an AFL Premiership and a Senior All-Ireland Championship. After achieving his dream, he returned to the AFL to play for Sydney, after missing one season.

Early life

Kennelly was born in Listowel in 1981 to mother Nuala[1] and father Tim Kennelly, a former All-Ireland Senior Football Championship winner with Kerry GAA.[2]

Tadhg grew up playing Gaelic football and was recognised as a highly talented underage player with Kerry GAA.[3] He was scouted by a number of English football football teams, including Tranmere Rovers and West Brom, and had under-age trials for the national team before being recruited by Blackburn Rovers.[4] Within a few months he decided to return to Ireland.[4]

Sporting career

AFL career, 2001–2008

In 1999, he signed a rookie contract with the Sydney Swans.[5][6] After his debut in 2001 (following elevation from the rookie list), he became a permanent fixture in the Sydney line-up as a dashing rebound defender, wearing the number 17 guernsey.

Kennelly earned an AFL Rising Star nomination in round 19 of 2002, consolidating his reputation as an upcoming young talent.[7] He was second (behind Leo Barry) for rebounds (77) from the defensive 50-metre arc in 2004.

Kennelly became the first Irishman to win an AFL Premiership medal in 2005, after playing all 26 games for the Sydney Swans that year. He was reportedly earning $750,000 (350,000 Euro), while playing for the Sydney Swans. The hype in Australia surrounding Kennelly's appearance in the AFL Grand Final was so much that Network Ten sent out its usual game-day boundary rider, Andrew Maher, over to County Kerry to visit Tadhg's family for the week and watch the Grand Final with them. Kennelly also appeared in the 2006 Grand Final, but the Swans lost 85–84 to the West Coast Eagles.[8]

In 2007 and 2008 after several seasons missing only a handful of games, Kennelly suffered a series of serious leg and shoulder injuries which became major setbacks to his AFL career. His knee buckled from a heavy tackle from the Melbourne Demons' Byron Pickett, causing an anterior cruciate ligament tear and seeing him miss several matches and later matches due to complications. In 2008, he again injured his knee, dislocating his knee cap and injuring his shoulder. He was selected in the Dream Team for the AFL Hall of Fame Tribute Match,[9] but later withdrew due to injury. He was quick to recover, however, and made an appearance for the Swans the following week, though again succumbed to the injury curse. During the rest of 2008, Kennelly's shoulder continually dislocated during games and his unorthodox methods of popping it back in was the subject of much media interest.[10]

On several occasions during his AFL career, Kennelly had expressed a desire to return home to Ireland and leave the AFL, as he would like to emulate the success of his father and win an All-Ireland Senior Football Championship medal with his native county's team, Kerry.[11] In December 2005, Kennelly's father Tim died suddenly at age 51.[2] It is believed his father's death may have some bearing on Kennelly's wish to return to Ireland.[12]

On 31 August 2006 Kennelly ended months of speculation by announcing he would be staying on with the Swans for a further three years. Kennelly said that this would be his last AFL contract and that he would be returning to Ireland at the end of the three-year contract. In March 2008, Kennelly was reported to have announced that he would "definitely" return to Ireland in 2009[13] to play with Kerry, saying "I want to win an All-Ireland with Kerry."[11][14] Kennelly announced his return to Ireland and Gaelic football in January 2009.[15]

Gaelic football career, 2009–2010

Tadhg Kennelly
Personal information
Irish name Tadhg Mac an Fhailí
Sport Gaelic football
Position Half Forward
Born Listowel, County Kerry
Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Years Club Apps (scores)
Listowel Emmets 66APPS
Years County Apps (scores)
Kerry 6 (0–8)
Inter-county titles
Munster titles 0
All-Irelands 1 (2009)
All Stars 1
*Inter County team apps and scores correct as of November 2009.

Upon returning to Kerry, Kennelly was given a job as a coaching officer by the Kerry County Board.[16]

He played his first competitive game for the Kerry Senior team on 8 March 2009 when he came on as a substitute in the Irish NFL against Derry, and there was speculation that he would be a member of the Kerry squad for the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.[17][18] He went on to win an Irish NFL medal when Kerry defeated Derry in the final in Croke Park. As Kerry had a number of injuries meaning that Darragh Ó Sé, Anthony Maher, Séamus Scanlon and Kieran Donaghy were all short of full fitness, Kennelly played in Kerry's first two games of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship in June. He picked up an injury during the qualifier series but his form continued to improve and after an impressive appearance as a substitute in the All-Ireland quarter-final against Dublin, he broke into the starting team for the semi-final in which Kerry beat Meath. On 20 September 2009 he played the first 50 minutes of the All-Ireland final win against Cork, scoring 2 points and becoming the first person to win an AFL premiership and an All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.[19] After the final Kennelly committed himself to the Kerry football team for the 2010 season, despite speculation that he was returning to Australia.[20]

In October 2009 he published his autobiography, Unfinished Business, ghost written with Scotty Gullen.[21] The book sparked controversy when a paragraph claimed that he setting out to make his mark at the start of the All-Ireland by deliberately colliding with Nicholas Murphy. After a big backlash, Kennelly released a statement where he stated he was taken out of context by his ghost writer.[22]

In November 2009, Kennelly informed the Kerry county board of his intention to return to the AFL in 2010.[23]

AFL career, 2009–2010

On 12 November 2009, Kennelly signed a two-year deal with the Sydney Swans, marking his return to the AFL. In addition to his playing role, he took up a coaching role at the club.[24] He was very consistent throughout the year playing in his customary role off half back. He was chosen in the Irish squad for the International Series in October.

Kennelly played his final AFL game in Sydney's semi-final defeat to Hawthorn on 16 September 2011; having played 197 AFL games.


 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles
Season Team No. Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T
Totals Averages (per game)
2001 Sydney 418313613491150.
2002 Sydney 17207312710022746260.
2003 Sydney 17248220616437085380.
2004 Sydney 17237219215334583370.
2005 Sydney 17262525014639699500.
2006 Sydney 17221221114936088420.
2007 Sydney 1713101298921867250.
2008 Sydney 17220423517541078360.
2010 Sydney 17200126115241399190.
2011 Sydney 17191117012529546490.
Career 197 30 21 1817 1266 3083 702 327 0.2 0.1 9.2 6.4 15.6 3.6 1.7

See also


  1. "Kennelly's champion Irish dad dies after being there for Tadhg's Swans fairytale". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 December 2005.
  2. Cowley, Michael (5 December 2005). "Kennelly's champion Irish dad dies after being there for Tadhg's Swans fairytale". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
  3. Kennelly to miss Swans' AFL opener | BreakingNews.ie
  4. Regan, Jarlath (26 May 2017). "Tadhg Kennelly". An Irishman Abroad (Podcast) (193 ed.). SoundCloud. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  5. Listowel Emmets Archived 26 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  6. RTE TV Archived 5 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 July 2008. Retrieved 18 January 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. http://www.breakingnews.ie/archives/2006/0930/sport/cwqlsnauauid/ BreakingNews.ie report
  9. Kennelly represents the world in AFL Tribute Match from worldfootynews.com
  10. Swans draw on spirit of Kelly By Jenny McAsey for FoxSports.com.au 11 September 2008]
  11. Kerry GAA – Tadhg Kennelly to Return to Kerry Football
  12. "Family man torn between home and blood brothers". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 September 2006.
  13. http://www.kerryman.ie/news/kennelly-calls-time-on-aussie-rules-career-1594283.html
  14. Hoganstand.com – GAA Football & Hurling
  15. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. Keys, Colm (4 March 2009). "Kennelly to take up coaching role". Irish Independent.
  17. "Different strokes as GAA clocks adjust to summer time". Irish Independent. 8 March 2009.
  18. "Derry 0–10 Kerry 0–12". RTÉ News. 8 March 2009. Archived from the original on 10 March 2009.
  19. "Kennelly adds to family's medal haul". RTÉ Sport. 21 September 2009. Archived from the original on 24 September 2009. Retrieved 21 September 2009.
  20. "Kennelly commits himself to Kerry". RTÉ Sport. 22 September 2009. Archived from the original on 23 September 2009. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  21. Kennelly, Tadhg (2009). Tadhg Kennelly : Unfinished Business. Mercier Press. ISBN 978-1-85635-639-8.
  22. Kennelly is an admirable sportsman who has to accept his own mistakes
  23. "Tadhg Kennelly to return to AFL". RTÉ Sport. 6 November 2009. Archived from the original on 9 November 2009. Retrieved 7 November 2009.
  24. "His body healed, Kennelly returns to Swans". The Age. 12 November 2009.
  25. Tadhg Kennelly's player profile at AFL Tables
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